Supercharged

Therapist TM

Are you one of the many people CONTINUALLY complaining of neck pain?

Have you ever wondered why you usually feel pain in your neck muscles and what you can do about it?

Answer this “What Can I Do To Get RID of this DAMN pain?”

Let’s first talk about why you might be having this issue in the first place, why EXACTLY is your neck sore??

Why is your neck sore?

People usually experience neck pain for several reasons. But most of the time, one feels pain or stiffness of their neck muscles due to poor posture or overusing your neck. Sometimes, a bad fall or an injury causes neck pain. In our industry, we say ‘misuse’, ‘disuse’, ‘abuse’ or ‘overuse’.

Actually most of the time, the pain usually subsides if left for a few days, the body simply self-heals. Neck pains lasting for more than a week needs some serious attention. Especially if accompanied by other symptoms which might include burning pain down the arms, weakness of the muscles of the neck and arms, severe headaches, etc. You should consult a doctor or therapist for further investigation and treatment.

But if you feel that your neck is due to your posture or more like the muscles are always TURNED ON, then there a few self-stretching activities that you can do at your home.

Do you suffer headaches that feel like they are coming from your neck or shoulders?

Can you turn your head sideways properly when reversing your car?

Do you get shoulder pain or eye tension?

SCM is the Culprit

If you answered yes to some of these then perhaps, we need to look at a neck muscle in the front of your body. The SCM is quite often the culprit that causes many of those problems.

If your SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is attached to the skull just behind the ears and then glides in a long sweep to the center points of your collar bone. The role of the muscle is to:

  • turn your head
  • to help tilt it to the sides
  • and when STRESSED it pulls your chin forward into a chin tuck position.

This is a protection position but if left untreated will compress the back of your neck. Symptoms of this shortening and compression of the suboccipital muscles are:

  • headaches,
  • eye strain,
  • vertigo (sometimes), and
  • tinnitus with lots of general neck pain
  • in chronic states also upper back pain

By making the SCM muscle longer, it encourages our head placement from chin poke into a more healthy “normal” head position and neck alignment.

The stretch that I’m going to teach you is pretty easy and you can do this anytime in the comfort of your home. Here are the steps that you should do to do this stretch.

  1. Go to a mirror because you need to look at your SCM muscle and get an idea of what it does. You will see the SCM muscle when you turn your head sideways, it is that strong thick muscle at the front of your neck, it may or may not be visible but you can generally feel it with your fingers.
  2. Next, we shorten and therefore soften your SCM muscle by turning your ear to the front and lowering your head so the ear is dropping down to your collar bone.
  3. Now take hold of that softened muscle and gently starts to bring your head back up to normal and then extend the head so that the opposite ear is directed to the shoulder blade. You’ll feel your fingers sliding down your SCM muscle every time you repeat this shortening and lengthening movement. This promotes a stretch that is also called an active stretch or a myofascial release technique. Shorten your muscle then come up and gently pull your muscle down to get a really good neck stretch muscle.  And you need to do these steps three times for each side of your neck.
  4. Once you completed on one side, you need to do the same steps on the other side of your neck. So again, do the head movements into neck flexion with an ear to the front and then back into neck extension with the opposite ear to the shoulder blade. You might feel a few lumps, bumps, painful spots along with the SCM muscle. That’s perfectly NORMAL for someone with neck issues. Over time these will ‘iron’ out and your head position return to one your therapist will be happy with. You’ll also feel a nice long stretch all the way along with this overused muscle group. Now repeat these steps again 3 times.

So there you have it. I hope you find this article useful for you. These stretches are simple, easy to apply, and can be done pretty much anytime or anywhere. The tip is whenever you feel neck pain or any symptoms related to SCM muscles you know the first of many options is to apply this stretch.

Paula Nutting Director Your Musculoskeletal Specialist
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